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City Health Commissioner named new President of Planned Parenthood

Dr. Leana Wen

For the first time in nearly 50 years, a doctor will lead Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen takes over a position with an organization that has 12 million supporters. Now on a  national level, Dr. Wen will lead Planned Parenthood's fight to protect access to reproductive health care.

As someone whose been on the frontlines of fighting for health care, first as an ER doctor and then a leader in public health, Dr. Wen fiercely believes health care is a right for all. And she knows what it’s like to be a Planned Parenthood patient: growing up in an immigrant family, Dr. Wen came to Planned Parenthood for care.

Dr. Wen currently serves as the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. A community advocate and emergency physician, she has led the Baltimore City Health Department, the oldest," said Wen.

"I understand that I am signing up for a huge challenge. Those who attack the work of Planned Parenthood may turn their criticisms to me, my family, and even our Health Department team and partners. But another core value that we share is that we have to do the things that are hard. I think about the women who face fear and stigma when they are trying to access legal, evidence-based medical care in their time of greatest need."

Mayor Catherine Pugh issue a statement congratulating Wen on her new chapter. "I am grateful to Dr. Leana Wen for her many contributions to improving the health and well-being of all Baltimoreans as Health Commissioner since 2015, " said Pugh.

"As Dr. Wen’s last day with the Baltimore City Health Department will be Friday, October 12th, 2018, we will be initiating a national search to identify the next Health Commissioner immediately.  In the meantime, we wish Dr. Wen continued success and look forward to benefiting from her leadership on the national level."

Dr. Wen has dedicated her career to expanding access to health care for the most vulnerable communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to address public health problems. Known as the “Doctor for the City” in Baltimore, she oversees more than 1,000 employees with an annual budget of $130 million; two clinics that provide more than 18,000 patients with reproductive health services; and medical programs for 180 Baltimore schools.

Under her direction, the Baltimore City Health Department leads the country in health innovations and was recently recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials as the Local Health Department of the Year.

Dr. Wen was born in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the United States with her family just before her eighth birthday. She and her parents were granted political asylum, and they became U.S. citizens in 2003.  Dr. Wen graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Los Angeles at the age of 18, and earned her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. She obtained her master’s degree at the University of Oxford and completed her residency training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School.

During medical school, she was elected president of the American Medical Student Association and took a year off to fulfill her leadership duties, including leading 65,000 physicians-in-training to fight for universal health and advocate for reproductive rights. Growing up, Dr. Wen, as well as her mother and sister, relied on Planned Parenthood for health care. During medical school, she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis.

Dr. Wen has received recognition as Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders and Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare. A Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and Academy of Medicine, she served on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2017, she was named one of Governing’s Public Officials of the Year.

Dr. Wen is married to Sebastian Walker, and they have a one year-old son.